Here are a few ways to boost your church’s health with a big community event.
1. As a leader, from the pulpit, inspire your church to be community-minded. It’s so important that you as leader promote and encourage community events. By doing this you can have a powerful influence not only within your church but also with the whole of your community. It is always good to be in good standing with your community. You want to be the church that people talk about (in the good way).
2. Leverage a holiday season like Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Easter. Around large holidays like these families are readily looking for events to attend as a family. Free events are even better! Take advantage of the easy advertising and draw those families in.
Holidays are also a more “safe” time for folks to experience your church atmosphere. Generally, the building is decorated and looking great so first impressions can be super painless.
3. Name the event properly. (Our candlelight services are called the Sinclair Community Christmas Eve Candlelight Service or Sinclair Community Easter Service) Don’t leave people guessing as to what is going to happen. At lease give them a clue so they know they’re walking in to. Most times a good name can give an idea of whether or not there will be child care or food. It can be extremely embarrassing for new comers to show up and not know about something important.
4. Enlist volunteers and create duties and time slots. (Start weeks ahead and have an after church meeting to get all the good ideas and “buy-in”. Folks always rally around things they help create.) People love to volunteer and help make a difference or put a smile on someones face. As a church you can be a great gateway for these opportunities. Be sure to give all the details and information ahead of time and have sign-up sheets for donation items or time shifts. People appreciate organization. Set meetings and ask for ideas and suggestions on how to make the event amazing. People will buy in when they can be apart of the planning process. An easy way to communicate with a large group of people is by creating a Facebook group message(for those in the Facebook realm, of course) or an email chain.
5. Create a “team spirit” by getting all the workers t-shirts. (They pay for them. Usually less than ten bucks each) We have had really positive responses to making special t-shirts for big events. Our volunteers love taking that special memory home with them in a tangible form. Plus, they will usually wear them again and that’s advertising for your church. It’s a win-win!
6. Have non-Sunday organizational meetings prior to the event. Having meetings on other days of the week can really show you who is dedicated to helping. If people are willing to give you another time slot during the week you can be sure that are invested. Folks are busy and families can have some crazy schedules but having a meeting on a non-sunday can be helpful. Try to be sensitive of not planning meetings at especially busy times of the days, too.
7. Promote through person-to-person. (We order business cards with the event info on them. give each church attendee 10 to handout starting three weeks early.) We have found that by asking our church people to help hand out invitations they start to own the event. It is also more appealing for a new comer to receive an invitation from a friend who personally invites them. Give your people the chance to talk up your events. Plus, many hands make light work! Think of how many more invites will be passed around by 50 people opposed to just you and few others doing it.
8. Put posters up in local stores. This is and easy relatively cheap way to advertise for your events. It’s very simple to make up a flyer with eye-catching photos and post them in your local post office and grocery stores. You’d be amazed at the traffic information boards still receive.
9. Use social media and promote sharing and commenting. We are in the Facebook age in case you haven’t caught on yet. This is a great way to reach hundreds of people without even leaving for home. Seriously, you can sit on the couch in your pj’s and type up questions and ideas and get tons of feedback. It’s free and easy to do.
10. Assign greeters and degreeters. (Degreeters stand at the doors and say “goodbye”, “thanks for being with us”. Degreeters can also handout a card with information about upcoming services, sermons and children’s events) Even though we are in the digital age it is still comforting to be greeted by a smiling, friendly face. Make your guests feel warm and welcome right from the beginning. For new comers this especially important for your first impression. Greeters and degreeters can also be very helpful for pointing people in the right direction. Always have your best face on!
11. Don’t overload your good “relationship people” with tasks. Let them “work the crowd” and do what they are good at. All churches have those super nice people who have the gift of conversation. Be careful not to place them in a position where they can’t greet and talk to the guests. Make them accessible and give them the freedom to roam and chat with folks. That fellowship can be the thing that keeps families coming back.
12. Take lots of pictures and create a followup slide show for the next week during church. Everyone loves to see themselves, friends, or their children in photos. After events have a presentation of sorts to play through on Sundays for your people to relish in the memories. It can be so sweet to remember that one time so and so did this or whatnot. Capture those moments and show people you appreciate them so much you created a memory of it.
13. Have a “debrief” or evaluation meeting after the event and celebrate. Ask these three question:
i. What went right?
ii. What went wrong?
iii. What was confusing to newcomers?
An evaluation process is vital for better success. Allow people to be real and fully truthful. You may learn things about your volunteers and you can benefit from their experiences and knowledge. You also get a wider view of the what the event looked like. You as one person could not seen everything. But, by asking everyone you will learn of other things and can know how to better the “oops” things that are bound to happen. Not only will your people buy in farther but you will find out who is not shy and will tell you the cold hard truth. Remember those people and ask them for their honesty.
14. Get out the calendar and plan the next big outreach event! You can’t succeed until you try. Take that step and plan it. Organize your event and start making arrangements early in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to advertise and brainstorm. Be brave and engage your community. I firmly believe you’ll not regret it. Even a small “win” is a win.
I hope these tips are helpful in growing your church spiritually and physically.
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